The fundamental problem with real estate is cost. The average household, whether renters or homeowners, is allocating too much of its income to housing. As a result, public policies are likely to continue in the direction of more subsidies, such the Federal Reserve’s manipulation of long term rates, and more regulations, such as eviction and foreclosure prevention, and rent controls. Real estate, could become a lot less “real” in the foreseeable future. As the market has witnessed since 2007, the Government could dictate the conditions of real estate ownership, even when it was not the lender. Today, it is in full control.
The overnight session had been mostly quiet until minutes ago, when unexpectedly WTI, which had traded down as low as the mid $46 range following the weakest Chinese manufacturing data in two years, saw another bout of algo-driven buying momentum which pushed it sharply, if briefly, above $50, and was last trading about 2.6% higher on the day. In today's highly correlated market, this was likely catalyzed by a brief period of dollar weakness as well as the jump of EURCHF above 1.05, within the rumored corridor implemented by the Swiss National Bank, which apparently has not learned its lesson and is a glutton for a second punishment, after its hard Swissy cap was so dramatically breached, it hopes to repeat the experience with a softer one around 1.05. Expect to see even more FX brokers blowing up once the EURCHF 1.05 floor fails to hold next.
The last time that stocks were strongly disconnected from reality and the US Dollar began to rally hard was 2008.
Until now, central banks have restricted monetary policy to domestic economic management; this is now evolving into the more dangerous stage of internationalisation through competitive devaluations. The gold price is an early warning of future monetary and currency troubles, and it is now becoming apparent how they may transpire. The ECB move to give easy money to profligate Eurozone politicians is likely to have important ramifications well beyond Europe, and together with parallel actions by the Bank of Japan, can now be expected to increase demand for physical gold in the advanced economies once more.
Moments ago, in the illiquid Sunday night pre-market, BofA's "Stolper" was just stolpered stopped out as the USDJPY just tumbled well below 117 on concerns about Greece and the biggest Chinese economic slowdown in 2 years, dropping to the lowest level since the SNB announcement in just 3 trading days after Curry's initial recommendation, which incidentally is a record short period of time for a "Stolpering", even the original Tom Stolper. So here's to you, MacNeil Curry: keep those "recos" coming because in the absence of illegal chatrooms and muppet slayers it was getting a little difficut to make riskless profits day in and out.
With the European Central Bank in QE mode, stocks should be catching a bid. Instead, they seem to be following commodities – down. But who knows? The situation is so crazy that only a disabled person could understand it. Why do we say that? Because a report released last week told us that one out of every three people on Social Security’s disability program is a mental defective. In Washington, DC, the rate of nuttiness among the disabled is even higher – 42%. No surprise there. Who better to understand what is going on in the financial world than a crazy person? Fortunately, America’s zombies are going crazy in ever-greater numbers.
A straight forward discussion of the factors driving the US dollar.
In China last year, just over 115 boys were born for every 100 girls, and since sonogram technology was introduced to China in the 1980s - allowing families to determine a baby’s gender during the first few months of pregnancy - the gender imbalance in the world's largest economy has grown colossal. However, as Beijing News recently explained, there may be a solution for China's 34 million woman shortfall... Ukrainian women, as "their economy is depressed but beautiful women are running rampant." While Foreign Policy notes that the best destinations for Chinese men to find spouses are Japan and South Korea, there appears to be plenty of fish in the sea, at least outside China. Oh the wonders of Ricardian comparative advantage - Ukraine needs an export business (and produces - from what we have heard - attractive women) and China needs to import 'women' (to fill its massive shortfall). Global economic growth problems, solved...
What happens if one expands the Eurozone NIRP universe to include the debt of other countries including Japan, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and so on? Conveniently, JPM has done the analysis and finds that a mindblowing $3.6 trillion of government debt traded with a negative yield as recently as last week. This represents 16% of the JPM Global Government Bond Index, or in other words nearly a fifth of all global government debt is now trading with a negative yield, meaning investors pay sovereigns, using other people's money of course, for the privilege of buying their issuance!
The grand central banking experiment being conducted around the globe right now will not end well. With little more than a lever to ham-fistedly move interest rates, the central planners are trying to keep the world's debt-addiction well-fed while simultaneously kick-starting economic growth and managing the price levels of everything from stocks to housing to fine art. The complexity of the system, the questionable credentials of the decision-makers, and the universe's proclivity towards unintended consequences all combine to give great confidence that things will not play out in the way the Fed and its brethren are counting on.
With NIRP raging in the Eurozone and over €1.5 trillion in European government bonds trading with negative yields, many were wondering when any of this perverted bond generosity will spill over to other debtors, not just Europe's insolvent governments (who can only print negative interest debt because of the ECB's backstop that it will buy any piece of garbage for sale in the doomed monetary union). In fact just earlier today we, rhetorically, asked a logical - in as much as nothing is logical in the new normal - question: "Who will offer the first negative rate mortgage." Little did we know that just minutes after our tweet, we would learn that at least one place is already paying homeowners to take out a mortgage. That's right - the negative rate mortgage is now a reality.
We won't go into the specific details of China's burst housing bubble, the shady underworld of its pyramid scheme wealth-management products, the fact that any hard asset in China is rehypothecated literally a countless number of times, the nuances of its deflating shadow banking system, or even the complexities of its alleged capital controls (alleged, because as a reminder, they only exist for the common folks - the really wealthy Chinese are naturally exempt from any capital flow constraints). We will point out something even more disturbing. The Offshore Yuan just hit a two-year low, reaching a level not seen since September 2012.
Recent market actions, the rapid decline in interest rates, earnings deterioration and plunging energy prices have made many less comfortable being long the market. While the "buy and hold" crowd suggests this is all rubbish, it should be worth remembering that every single one of that group never saw the corrections in 2000 or 2008 until it was far too late. Their only excuse was "no one could have seen it coming." The truth is that many did see what was coming. Paying attention to what is happening at the margin leads to an understanding of when the "tides" begin to shift.
At 32.5bps, Germany's 10Y Bund closed at a record low today (within 4bps of Japan's 10Y yield). The Japanification of Europe is almost complete.
It is my expectation, unless these deflationary trends reverse course in very short order, that if the Fed raises rates it will invoke a fairly negative response from both the markets and economy. However, I also believe that the Fed understands that we are closer to the next economic recession than not. For the Federal Reserve, the worst case scenario is being caught with rates at the "zero bound" when that occurs. For this reason, while raising rates will likely spark a potential recession and market correction, from the Fed’s perspective this might be the “lesser of two evils.”